in which stephanie has a whole discussion all on her own

Serving Sizes Are a Myth

Gen/Family Bonding
2242 Words
Fluff
Stephanie Brown, Bruce Wayne 
AO3 Link
CEC Universe

Serving Sizes Are a Myth

The study is quiet when Stephanie Brown notices Damian Wayne standing in the doorway, looking in at her on the couch and Bruce leaning back in his office chair. Damian’s expression is hard to read, maybe boredom, and he observes them for a minute before speaking.

“I was instructed to inform you that it is dinner time,” Damian says.

“Ugh,” Stephanie says, slumping against the arm of the couch. “Hard pass, but thanks.”

“Tell Alfred we’re skipping dinner,” Bruce says.

There’s a flash of surprise on Damian’s face and then he asks, “Shall I tell him you are ill?”

“I already ate,” Stephanie says, sighing. “And now I’m sick.”

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alwaysworryneverhappy  asked:

Explain!

OK, @eldritch-cthulhu also asked me. But it’s a lot less fun than explaining about demonic summoning, because it’s not actually about that. It’s about misogyny.

It’s by a dude but a useful book I read in explaining these feelings (which I had starting early, but couldn’t really sum up) I encountered in college was The Triple Bind: Saving Our Teenage Girls from Today’s Pressures and Conflicting Expectations, by Dr. Steven Hinshaw. It’s not a perfect book, and I don’t agree with everything in it, but the thesis was a useful one to me and I’ll paraphrase it here.

The book describes a ‘Triple Bind’ that many young women and girls experience, and carry into adult life. These are basically three conditions that cannot conflict to remain valid, but inherently contradict:

  1. Be good at all the ‘girl stuff.’ That’s not just performative femininity, looking ‘like a girl’ and having access to resources required for feminine appearance. But also performing all of the emotional labor expected from girls, roles expected from girls, and be good at them.

  2. Be good at all the ‘guy stuff.’ If you want to survive in our current culture, women need to ‘trespass’ into activities that our culture once coded exclusively male like work and careers, sometimes in school sports, being aggressive or assertive in projects, sometimes just having access to and spending money. This includes emotional approach and labor, performing a sort of numbers-filed-off suggestion of masculinity because the feminine is inherently considered subordinate. But not one that’s ‘good enough’ to transgress against assigned gender, or has access to challenge men in their own sphere of life.

  3. You MUST conform to the above, within a narrow set of standards of success that can’t mutually fulfill both of the prior conditions completely. Women’s role models are expected to have both traits, but not too much of both or either. You can be a star athlete, but people will criticize the same body they celebrate. You can be a successful career person but be prepared to be seen as cold, demanding, and non-maternal. Alternatively, you can be a mother but you better not be one of those no-career moms who just aren’t Feminist™. But a mother with a job is a bad mother and a bad worker because she’s not one thing or the other. You can be a tomboy but you better not transgress against the gender binary or heteronormativity too much. Girls who don’t wear blue jeans and aren’t cool with ‘the guys’ aren’t ‘cool.’ But some (gross men) want those girls because feminine girls are typified as not aggressive. But you better not have worn a skirt to the club, because you were asking for what happened next. You also better be aware of all of this, in control at all times and not have any form of disability or mental illness that effects your behavior or presentation.

Because the ‘girl stuff’ and the ‘guy stuff’ contradict (many people have described femininity as a lack of masculinity, and masculinity as a lack of femininity) it’s impossible to meet both demands at the same time in a satisfactory way. And then the third part of the bind that you must meet both, that it is not optional further traps women and girls. Basically it is a hell of inauthenticity that can leave someone feeling empty trying to meet all of these contradictory demands, inevitably doing something ‘wrong,’ and never being able to tell what is actually their real personality and what is just something that was expected of them that they can’t actually ever succeed at properly.

So that was long, but back to the whole joke of ‘why settle when you can have it all’ via demonic summoning. 

Because it’s impossible to fill these demands, so much media,

both by men who idealize a woman who magically achieves the contradictory demands (think: women by Joss Whedon)

and by women and girls who are tortured and are trying to invent ‘better’ versions of themselves that fulfill the contradictory demands (think: women by Stephanie Meyer)

depicts women and girls that come across as ‘too perfect’ or else strangely not subject to reality or their environment that in real life maintains we can’t ‘have it all.’

And yeah some of it is misogyny– there’s no reason to call Rey from Star Wars a Mary Sue other than that you think women shouldn’t be competent at anything. 

But you can’t deny that in a lot of media women’s power fantasies are not merely about ability or image, but about control: achieving a very specific sort of ideal persona that is able to be in control of patriarchal demands upon them, perfectly respond to everything society asks of women. Be strong but not so strong you threaten men. Be maternal but not too maternal, and still do all of that work to reassure men that you’re there for them. Be one of the guys, but don’t lose your feminine appeal to them. Be sexual and model a typified-male detached view of sexual encounters, but don’t be a slut. Be beautiful, but don’t come across as if you need to maintain your beauty. Be powerful, but remain firmly within the male gaze. Be independent, but not too independent.

It really can feel like the only way anybody in real life could somehow fulfill all of this at once is to sell your soul to demons. A lot of lateral hostility among women follows that script. it’s framed as ‘jealousy’ but it’s more complex than that. It’s a warped perception that some other women ‘have’ managed to fill the triple bind a little, and a self-loathing that we can’t. She must have sold her soul somehow, is faker, is more superficial than we are, to have met some of her contradictory hell demands.

Often this kind of anger has to do with hatred or idolization of money, which is one of the ways to lessen the triple bind; be able to buy all this shit that fills the image and makes it ‘easier’ for some women. But it better not be your career. Get a rich husband. But then you’re a gold digger. And it begins again.

So in the end that picture isn’t just a joke about summoning demons to gain control over your life and avoid the eventual mediocrity all people will achieve in some aspect of their lives. Intentionally or not, It’s also about women discussing that they are in hell and the only way one could ever win is to somehow impossibly bend the demons to their will. It’s a bitter joke because in real life you can’t make the patriarchy lay off of you, just as much as you can’t actually ritually summon imps to do all your chores.